When a child is born to a ruthless and destructive parent, the kid has two choices growing up — once she recognizes what she is up against (no easy task). The child can follow the path set by the parent — learn to kill like an alpha predator or become prey, a weakling, a “loser” unworthy of love, say — or grow up to repudiate that pernicious worldview. The world is a place of infinite gradation, becoming like or disavowing a destructive parent is one of the few truly black and white choices we are given in this life, though far from an easy one.
It’s hard enough for a child to get a clear view of a parent’s destructiveness. Much of the damage parents do is unintended and passionately justified by love. The hardest injuries to recover from are the subtle ones, the hardest ones to even see. It takes dedicated work, and luck, to see a parent clearly enough to understand the damage they were able to inflict. Children naturally blame themselves when their parents are angry at them. It often takes many years, if ever, to get a more useful adult perspective that can guide you going forward in your own life.
It can become even more complicated to recover from parental abuse when that parent has vast resources to manipulate the kid with. Back in 1948 our current lame duck president, as a two year-old, was effectively given a $4,000 a week (in 2018 dollars) allowance. He was a millionaire by eight, a multi-millionaire by his teen years. He learned from both of his striving parents that there is only one value in life: increasing your fortune by any means possible. A person who was given great wealth and did not tirelessly increase that wealth was a piece of shit, a “loser”, in the Frederick Christ Trump household.
The president’s charismatic older brother, who sought independence from an overbearing and vicious father, ended his alcoholic life heading a janitorial crew in one of his punitive father’s buildings. Drank himself to death, as the saying goes. The lesson was not lost on young Donald. He would not take the risk of defying his iron-willed father, besides, the idea of being the most powerful and envied man in the world appealed to him greatly.
And so it was. In 2016 he became the most powerful man in the world. A petulant, childish most powerful man, but one able to exact terrible revenge on anyone who hurt him with criticism, disloyalty, a perverse insistence on being bound by abstractions like lawfulness and norms. A man who could order the Mother of All (non-nuclear) Bombs to be dropped somewhere in the Middle East, devastating a huge area, for no apparent purpose, with no blowback from anyone. He was hailed all around as “presidential” for this kind of bold, decisive action. As he was, by his loyal base, when he crammed through the rushed, last-minute lifetime appointment of a religious zealot on to the Supreme Court, cementing the anti-abortion majority he’d promised. Coney Barrett promptly provided the decisive vote on a controversial and wrongly decided “religious liberty” case that will cost countless more American lives during the pandemic.
Before he lost the recent election, decisively defeated by a man he called “the worst candidate in history,” Joe Biden, Trump announced, over and over, that any election he lost would be contested in court as fake, the result of a vast conspiracy to rig the election. On election night, as early vote counting showed him ahead and he strongly suggested to his millions of followers that he had, in fact, already won the election, he also spoke of the army of lawyers he was going to unleash to overturn the election results that stole the presidency from him. Coherent messaging is not his thing, nor is it demanded by any of the 73,000,000 who voted for him.
His record in those forty post-election lawsuits was not good. Team Trump and the RNC compiled a losing record, they went 1 and 39, (a winning percentage of .025, for you sports fans). The New York Times, among others, wrote mean sub-headlines like:
A small group of lawyers for Mr. Trump’s campaign has presided over a widely mocked, circuslike legal effort to try to invalidate votes and prevent states from certifying their results
In the end, all of his machinations to evade the law, obstruct justice (the only real through-line of his wildly litigious life) and maintain his power by sheer force of personality (and the considerable power and prestige of his office) failed. Tens of millions love him, but there were not enough millions of violent, well-organized followers who were also willing to die in street battles, fighting the US government, to keep Mr. Trump in power.
All that remains now is Trump’s unslakable will for revenge, to mark the world in his image as much as he can in the last days of his presidency. His loyalists are in place in every government agency to make permanent changes in his incoherent image, lawyers are working tirelessly to change the civil service rules to make it impossible to get rid of his unqualified appointees, his senseless changes to longstanding rules and procedures.
He is hurrying work on The Wall, his legacy, crews are furiously dynamiting remote mountains, destroying habitat, bulldozing indigenous burial grounds to build another 30 miles of WALL before he leaves office. He is currently pursuing 117 lawsuits in states like Arizona to force property owners to allow the wall to be built across their private property. If Biden wants to halt construction after January 20th, he will have to pay enormous cancellation fees on all the contracts Trump handed out, each with a large fee for cancellation written into it.
I recall Trump being interviewed during the campaign and answering forthrightly about several of his campaign slogans. “Lock her up!” the chant that recently pardoned perjurer and undisclosed employee of Turkey Michael Flynn led at the RNC was a no-brainer. They’d branded Hillary Clinton “Crooked Hillary” and ran against her as the corrupt, criminal butcher of those poor, betrayed Americans in Benghazi. The interviewer asked candidate Trump about “Build that wall!” He said somebody suggested it, and he didn’t think it was very good, but was amazed at how crowds took to it. Crowds loved chanting that, so he made sure to lead the chant in every speech after that. A gigantic wall went on to become a huge part of his legacy.
Mr. Trump is often called “transactional” which is a nice way of describing a lifelong loser obsessed with being seen a winner . Every encounter is a zero-sum transaction– one winner, one loser. It is a pathetic, damaged way to view the world, which is only saved from destruction by intelligent negotiation and compromise. Compromise is disgrace, in the eyes of a killer. You do not compromise with prey, you tear out its throat, eat its flesh. That’s what winners do.
“Winners”, apparently, will do anything imaginable not to be seen as “losers”.
In the dark of night, a day or two before Christmas, in the waning hours of the Bush-Cheney administration, by voice vote, Congress passed a law to cripple the United States Postal Service by forcing it to fund its retirement plans 75 years in to the future. The draconian law requires the USPS to fully fund the retirement of workers not yet even born. It is the only business in the world subjected to this kind of unfeasible mandate.
When you read about this law you generally see “Congress passed” attached to it, but there’s no hint of the midnight partisan vote in the last days of a presidency that, until Trump’s, was seen as the most disastrous in history. Stay tuned for Trump’s version of this kind of angry loser power-play– Trump is the worst we’ve ever seen, on steroids.
The problematic NY Times lays it on:
The president’s inability to concede the election is the latest realty-denying moment in a career preoccupied with an epithetsource